Gulliver\'s Legacy At HSBC: Probe Settlements, Global Overhaul

Stuart Gulliver, the CEO of HSBC Holdings Plc since 2011, will make way in February for successor John Flint, the London-based bank said on Thursday. He leaves after steering the lender through a wave of misconduct scandals and a strategic overhaul that sought to toughen controls and shrink the bank’s perimeter.


With the backing of then-chairman Douglas Flint, Gulliver, 58, moved to impose central control over HSBC’s vast global network, announcing more than 87,000 job cuts during his tenure and exiting almost 100 businesses and 18 countries. He outlined a “pivot to Asia,” redeploying tens of billions of dollars to the region, including China’s Pearl River Delta. HSBC also paid billions of dollars in costs and settlements after regulators accused the lender of rigging foreign-exchange markets, mis-selling insurance products to U.K. consumers, breaching sanctions and helping Latin American drug cartels launder money.

HSBC shareholders have fared better under Gulliver than those investing in U.K. rivals Standard Chartered Plc and Barclays Plc. Yet, the bank has underperformed the FTSE 100, an index tracking the biggest U.K. stocks.

The bank is one of the few large U.K. banks not to shrink since the financial crisis, even as Gulliver exited certain businesses and geographies. The bank had about $2.5 trillion of assets at the end of June, more than any other bank in Europe and about the same as when he took over in 2011.

While the bank has made money every year under Gulliver, legal costs tied to HSBC’s misconduct also soared.

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